Motoman unmasked? 'Bullshit' says bike shop owner named as Lance Armstrong's man with the moped…and EPO

Philippe Maire, who remains on friendly terms with former Tour de France winner, says it wasn't him

by Simon_MacMichael   October 13, 2012  

Stars n Bikes, Cagnes sur Mer (source Google Street View)

Philippe Maire, the owner of a bike shop near Nice on the Côte d’Azur named as ‘Motoman,’ the motorbike rider said to have supplied EPO to Lance Armstrong and others during the 1999 Tour de France, has told France's L'Equipe that such allegations are 'conneries’ – that’s French for “bullshit.” Maire had been named as Motoman in Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle's book, The Secret Race, after Coyle tracked him down.

In the book, Coyle decribed how starting from the first name that Hamilton had supplied and subsequently tracking down that photo of Maire and Armstrong, he had been able to identify him.

Several pictures that previously appeared on Maire's Facebook page are published in the Appendix to USADA’s reasoned decision, albeit with his face blanked out and the word ‘redacted’ superimposed.

It’s not too difficult to still find unredacted versions of those pictures, including one USADA published showing Armstrong and another with Team Sky sports director Sean Yates, on the internet. 

According to testimony filed with USADA, the nickname ‘Motoman’ was bestowed on a handyman and gardener employed by Armstrong and former wife Kristin when the lived in Nice, who followed the 1999 Tour de France on a motorbike, couriering packages of drugs including EPO to be used by Armstrong, Hamilton and Kevin Livingston.

When L’Equipe approached Maire this week to ask whether he was the Motoman named in Hamilton and Coyle’s book as well as in USADA’s documents, he denied it flatly, describing such a notion as “madness” and “fantasy.”

“Yes, I’ve kown Lance since 1998,” he added, “and all his friends when they all lived in Nice, too. “Yes, I’m a biker,” he went on, “and yes, I went along to some stages on my motorbike to greet Lance. But for the rest, the EPO, the thermos [that the EPO was said to be stored in to keep it cool], that’s rubbish. Bullshit.”

Maire is the owner of bike shop Stars ‘N’ Bikes in Cagnes-sur-Mer, located just to the west of Nice on the way to Antibes, and the town that will host the departure of Stage 5 of next year’s 100th edition of the Tour de France, following the team time trial in Nice the previous day.

By coincidence, the shop, which appears prominently in some of the redacted pictures published by USADA, stocks three brands closely associated with Armstrong – Trek bicycles, Nike clothing, and Oakley sunglasses.

According to local newspaper Nice Matin, the former cyclist and Maire remain on friendly terms, catching up for a morning coffee earlier this year when Armstrong was training for June’s Nice Ironman, a race he would not take part in due to being provisionally suspended once USADA had charged him.


11 user comments

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Gosh, he stocks Trek, Nike and Oakleys, it must be him then !

posted by alun [45 posts]
13th October 2012 - 18:39


I thought the word "conneries" meant a group of "cons" (er, foolish people, shall we say), and translated more as "moron convention" or "clusterf**k". Any help from native French speakers would be greatly appreciated.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
13th October 2012 - 20:58


I'm certainly not a native speaker, but i think that translation is correct.
Con if said in a certain way is quite mild much like calling some a fool or an idiot, but other similar words like conard, connasse and conneries have slighter harsher, more nasty meanings.
Translating French swearing is quite complicated, you will regularly hear French people saying "putain" or "bordel" after the slightest inconvenience, much like an English person might say s**t or bloody hell but literally translated into English they mean "whore" and "brothel"

posted by NeilG83 [288 posts]
13th October 2012 - 21:44


Learnt the word's various nuances from an ex-girlfriend who was French, and I'm pretty happy it's the correct sense here.

See also:

Swear words generally aren't straightforward to translate... words that might be considered fairly inoffensive in English can be rather like dropping the c-bomb when you use the local equivalent in another language.

Trust me on that, I've had a table of diners stare at me open mouthed, with a look on their faces that meant, 'Did he *really* just say that...?'

So the trick is with swearwords, you don't translate the literal meaning - which in this case would be idiocy, or similar - but another term that would get across the same idea and level of profanity on the scale of mild to offensive, which is what I've tried to do here.

Mind you, I could just be full of bullshit... Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9506 posts]
13th October 2012 - 22:37


Thanks Neil and Simon (Neil Simon?). I wasn't criticising anyones French, just genuinely confused.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
13th October 2012 - 22:50


It is the correct translation and, Neil, in this particular case, is a very simple one, as "conneries" isn't really used as an interjection like "putain" or "bordel" are.

You could also use "foutaises" but it's a little bit "milder" and a somewhat outdated word.

Either way, he seems to disagree, but I'm not sure how his business will fare. People down the south east have a hot temper!

PS: I'm native French, bad tempered too, but from the North West Wink

ekynoxe's picture

posted by ekynoxe [49 posts]
13th October 2012 - 23:25


Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [298 posts]
14th October 2012 - 7:23


There is a saying in French that someone is "beside their shoes", which also loses something in the translation!

posted by alun [45 posts]
14th October 2012 - 10:46


Given that what he did would be illegal in France (or is it only illegal for sportsmen??), I'm not surprised he's saying that the idea he was carrying EPO around is stupid.

Plus being implicated in the biggest cycling scandal of all time might not work very well for a bike shop owner. I know the phrase "all publicity is good publicity" is out there but even so, this might be a touch too much.

posted by atlaz [175 posts]
15th October 2012 - 12:40


The puns have started in earnest on twitter. I particularly like:

The GC contenders have been playing the waiting game all day, to make sure Motoman gets through before the road closes #newliggettisms

Rolling On The Floor

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
16th October 2012 - 2:35


alun wrote:
Gosh, he stocks Trek, Nike and Oakleys, it must be him then !

Big Grin

posted by David Whyte [35 posts]
16th October 2012 - 15:20